Court Rules Sacklers Immune to Civil Liability in Opioid Crisis - The Wednesday AM Quickie 5/31/23

I will be taking a month’s long hiatus to do some organizer training with the Massachusetts Nurses’ Association. You know you’re in good hands with Corey for June, and I'll be back for all of July. I can’t wait to share insights from the field with you!– Robert

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Sacklers Shielded from Liability for Starting Opioid Crisis

In another example of how the wealthy rarely get held accountable in the United States, a federal appeals court has ruled that members of the multi-billion dollar Sackler family, who sparked the opioid epidemic by heavily marketing and lying about the addictiveness of OxyContin, will receive full immunity from civil charges for the crisis, according to the Washington Post.

The protections are tied to Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy settlement, which stipulates that the Sacklers will give $6 billion to help address the opioid crisis, but is really intended to avoid the full extent of legal accountability. Per the Washington Post:

...The bankruptcy is at the core of a plan intended to resolve thousands of opioid cases against the company nationwide, plus roughly 400 against individual Sackler family members.

The re-branded Purdue Pharma will seek profits from the addiction crisis it caused, but is expected to pay out long-awaited restitution for its victims.

According to the plan, Purdue would be restructured into a new entity called Knoa Pharma that will manufacture medications for addiction reversal and treatment as well as continue to produce other drugs, including OxyContin. It will be overseen by a public board. Over time, Knoa Pharma is expected to contribute at least many hundreds of millions dollars more to plaintiffs.

The appeals court ruling effectively puts to bed the notion that despite the bankruptcy filing putting a halt to lawsuits on Purdue, individuals in the Sackler family could still be sued. However, the ruling does not prevent future criminal prosecutions.

Debt Ceiling Countdown: The House Votes Today

Thirty Republicans have thus far expressed their opposition to the Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal, according to the Washington Post. But with only half of the House Republican caucus necessary to pass the deal, and only 107 votes needed from Democrats, it looks like the deal is going to get move through the House with ease. Rep. Thomas Massie’s support also prevents a potential hang-up in the Rules committee, where far right detractors of the deal Reps. Chip Roy (Tex.) and Ralph Norman (S.C.) hold seats. Despite the poetic catastrophizing from the likes of Roy, who said the Republican conference has been “torn asunder” from the deal, only one of the Freedom Caucus boys had the nerve to publicly support a vote to vacate McCarthy’s speakership. Providing the deal passes the House, the Senate may work over the weekend to get it to Biden's desk by Monday, when the U.S. is expected to default on its debts.

EPA Could Withdraw $1 Billion from Union Busting EV Bus Manufacturer

Early this month 1,400 workers at Blue Bird, one of the largest bus manufacturers in the United States, voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers (USW), quite the feat in anti-worker Georgia where the Blue Bird factories are located. EPA grants expected to net the company $1 billion in revenue for building America’s fleet of EV school buses were conditioned on “union neutrality,” but the company is flagrantly violating this condition, according to the Telegraph. USW has filed seven complaints with the National Labor Relations Board including, among other things, firing an employee for pro-union activity, surveilling employers that were meeting with union organizers, threatening to close factories in response to the union win, and threatening to freeze pay and benefits during the contract negotiation process. According to the Telegraph, EPA officials did not respond to a direct question asking if funding would be rescinded if the employer was violating its union neutrality obligations, instead citing that terms of that program funds “cannot be used to support or oppose union organizing.” Of course, this language means nothing without enforcement; the EPA must compel Blue Bird to negotiate in good faith.


  • Ukraine Retaliates with Drone Strike on Moscow This is the first time civilian areas in Moscow have been impacted by the war. via the New York Times.
  • DeSantis Criticizes Trump, But Doesn’t Say it With His Chest The Florida governor is avoiding saying Trump’s name like he’s Lord Voldemort. via Politico.
  • Teenager Shot for Ringing the Wrong Doorbell Walks in First Public Appearance Since Shooting Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager, suffered a brain injury after he was shot by 84-year-old White man Andrew Lester when Yarl came to his door looking to pick up his brothers. via AP.
  • Minnesota Prison Officials Seized $10,000 in Wages from Incarcerated Workers The workers were given raises for hard work before their managers reneged and are now forced to pay back months’ worth of income. via the American Prospect.
  • Alabama Expands Trans Athlete Ban to College Teams At least 20 states now have restrictions on transgender athletes in K-12 and college-level sports. via NBC News.
  • Tara Reade, the woman who accused Biden of Sexual Assault, Defects to Russia She appears to be under the wing of convicted Russian spy Maria Butina. via the Guardian.


5.7 percent

That’s how much the lowest paid American workers (10th percentile) gained in inflation-adjusted wages from 2020 to 2022. Meanwhile, middle and higher earners saw their wages and salaries drop in real terms. via Politico.


5/31: It's Hump Day! Sam and Emma talk to Ken Klippenstein, investigative reporter at the Intercept, to discuss his recent reporting on the Pentagon's efforts to combat disinformation. Then they speak with Nick Turse, contributing writer at The Intercept, to discuss his recent series on Henry Kissinger.


EXPOSED: Jim Clyburn’s Shocking Role In Gerrymandering His Own State | Marilyn Thompson | TMR

Clyburn worked with Republicans to implement a racial gerrymander, solidifying his own position while reducing the power of the Black electorate in South Carolina.

Christian Rapper Wants To Cleanse Children’s Toys With Jesus Blood

I just imagine the workers and shoppers watching them film this with confused expressions.


“I don’t think we want EPA in the plant while we are setting off explosives in the boiler.”

-- A September email exchange between executives at Covanta Energy, a garbage incineration company angling for climate money in the Inflation Reduction Act. via the Washington Post.

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